Today, Frieze and Ruinart revealed Stanya Kahn as the artist selected for the 2023 R.U.in.ART Commission for Frieze Los Angeles 2023.
Launched in 2019, the annual initiative invites a Californian artist to realize a commission in the Ruinart lounge at Frieze Los Angeles 2023. Steered by Christine Messineo, Director of Americas, Frieze, Frieze Los Angeles will take place February 16th – 19th at the new location of Santa Monica Airport and feature an expanded line-up of galleries from across the globe.
Fabien Vallerian, International Director of Arts and Culture at Maison Ruinart said:
‘The awareness that Stanya Kahn’s artworks raise is in line with the values that Ruinart champions such as sustainability and biodiversity. By portraying wild and invented species gazing back at us, she puts the spotlight on the human accountability and the necessity to change our interface with the natural world.’
Drawing on her 2022 exhibition at Vielmetter Los Angeles, ‘Forest for the Trees’, Kahn’s commission will take the form of an installation in which elements of the natural world frame paintings and sculptures depicting lone animals in imagined wilds. Titled Understory, the installation references that which lives between the forest floor and the canopy, invoking the “understory” of the Anthropocene, a story of domination and exploitation. Understory offers a dream-like respite, while at the same time inviting audiences to contemplate their relation to collapse, transformation and possible renewal.
The paintings feature a selection of animals – an endangered ivory-billed woodpecker; Harambe, the tragically slain silver-back gorilla from Cincinnati Zoo, and a coyote who took up residence in
Kahn’s own backyard – all pictured amidst lush, vibrant landscapes, seemingly untouched by humankind.
The paintings are encased in deep profile frames assembled from planks of old-growth redwood salvaged from the walls of the artist’s studio. Resembling window boxes housing alternate worlds, the custom frames hold ceramic snakes, skulls, and other organisms and artifacts creating dioramic mise en scènes. In addition, ceramic and bronze figures and wheel-thrown vessels resembling artifacts sit on fallen tree sections, serving as markers of history and human intervention. Meanwhile, a screen showing an animation of a mutant duck caught in the entropic cycle of flood waters followed by drought, plays on loop.
Visitors to the installation will be invited to take away unique hand-thrown porcelain cups especially created by Kahn in a limited edition of 100 to accompany the installation.
In addition, in consultation with the artist, Ruinart has pledged a contribution from the sale of every glass of Ruinart champagne at the fair to be donated to urban agricultural non-profit organization Ron Finley Project which seeks to empower communities by teaching methods to grow food and regenerate arid land.
About the artist
Stanya Kahn (b. 1968, San Francisco) is a multidisciplinary artist who works primarily in film and video with a practice that includes drawing, painting, sound and ceramics. Humor, pathos and the uncanny are central to a hybrid practice that seeks to re-work relationships between fiction and document, the real and the hyper-real, narrative time and the synchronic time of impulse. In a long- term investigation of how rhetoric gains and loses power, Kahn’s projects often situate language in the foreground of works that are dialectically driven by the demands and of the body. Sometimes language falls away altogether. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; ICA/LA; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO; MoMA PS1, New York, NY; Grand Arts, Kansas City, MO; Cornerhoues, Manchester, UK; and the New Museum, New York, NY. In January 2023, a large selection of her film and video works will be presented at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam. Kahn’s work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art/NY, the Walker Art Center, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art among others.